From their very beginning, citizens of Pope County knew they were a people with a history—a story to be preserved and shared with the next generation. Even in the earliest years, there were a few County residents with memories and artifacts that were set aside and kept for later telling –the Native American presence on lakeside campsites, saved letters and photographs of immigrant families in a prairie landscape that was like nothing they had known in the rocky hills and woods of Norway, Ireland, Bohemia and Germany. There were others, too, with old tools and machines that were not discarded, but put in storage, each with a story to be told. A sense of history was present in the community. People felt the need to have a common center in which artifacts, photographs, stories and memories could be shared with others.
It was not until the years of the Great Depression that steps were made toward the creation of such a center, when members of the community came together to organize the Pope County Historical Society. With the help of New Deal dollars workers were employed by the new Society to search old local newspapers for the stories of Pope County families—the beginnings of the History Society’s extensive genealogical records of families from throughout the county. The Society also provided a central place to display some of the artifacts that families had been keeping over the years. This gathering of artifacts resulted in the need for even more space and the community rallied to plan and build our current Pope County Museum, with ample galleries and grounds for an expanded display of historical artifacts and buildings and with space to continue gathering family stories.
Today, more than ever, we need our history. We need the stories of the making of our place—our countryside and our towns. We need the stories of elders, and their children and grandchildren. We need the stories of Old Immigrants and New Immigrants. We need the stories both of joy and of sorrow; of challenge and courage; innovation and change.
The place where these stories can be found is the Pope County Historical Society and its Museum. This is the Society’s mission: “to foster among people an awareness of Pope County History so that they may draw strength and perspective from the past and find purpose for the future.” To fulfill and sustain its mission, the Society needs the community’s continued support, through memberships, volunteer help, and financial contributions. Your generous annual gift is especially needed today.
The goal of the Historical Society’s annual fund solicitation, which takes place during the harvest-time weeks of October and November, fills the gaps in the funding of the Society’s basic operations, lessening the need to freeze salaries and implement temporary staff layoffs. We encourage members of the Society and others to consider the responsibility all of us have to care for our history.
Send your annual fund contribution to
Pope County Historical Society
809 South Lakeshore Drive
Glenwood, Minnesota 56334